It’s not always the length of a song that makes it great. There are concise songs that stand out as some of the best that music has to offer.
What are some of those tracks? Keep reading to learn about the best short songs for you to discover. With a list full of songs under 2 minutes, it’ll only take a moment!
Table of Contents
- No Ceiling – Eddie Vedder
- Fell in Love with a Girl – The White Stripes
- There Goes My Gun – Pixies
- Very Ape – Nirvana
- Her Majesty – The Beatles
- I Will. (No Man’s Land.) – Radiohead
- Judy is a Punk – Ramones
- Breaking Glass – David Bowie and Nine Inch Nails
- Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want – The Smiths
- White Riot – The Clash
- Love You More – Buzzcocks
- The King of Carrot Flowers, Pt. One – Neutral Milk Hotel
- Accordion – Madvillain
- Friend or Foe – Jay-Z
- Harvest Breed – Nick Drake
- Dance Music – The Mountain Goats
- Welcome to the Working Week – Elvis Costello
- Skinned – Blind Melon
- The Celibate Life – The Shins
- Communist Daughter – Neutral Milk Hotel
- Highly Evolved – The Vines
- Titus Andronicus Forever – Titus Andronicus
- Broken Face – Pixies
- Straight Edge – Minor Threat
- Lazing on a Sunday Afternoon – Queen
- You Gave Your Love to Me Softly – Weezer
- Why Don’t We Do It in the Road? – The Beatles
- Chatterbox – Sid Vicious
- Norgaard – The Vaccines
- Vaseline – Elastica
- Tourette’s – Nirvana
- Bend Down the Branches – Tom Waits
- Once in a While – Eddie Vedder
- Dio – Tenacious D
- A Salty Salute – Guided by Voices
- Fat – Violent Femmes
- United States of Whatever – Liam Lynch
- Cretin Hop – Ramones
No Ceiling – Eddie Vedder
In this track, Eddie Vedder wants to escape his life. He’s been through a lot of stress and wants to feel freer. At the same time, the song has a hopeful tone, and Vedder seems wiser for all his experiences.
Related: Make your getaway with our escaping songs playlist.
Fell in Love with a Girl – The White Stripes
This short song talks about the complications that arise when we realize we have feelings of love or lust. The distinction is real, and the differences we feel for people are out of control. Joss Stone’s version of ‘Fell in Love with a Boy’ was so liked by Jack White that he decided to perform it live instead of The White Stripes’ version.
Related: This song features on our list of songs to sing to your boyfriend.
There Goes My Gun – Pixies
There aren’t many lines in this track; the most-repeated lyric is “there goes my gun.” While the lyrics don’t necessarily make much sense, they do seem to be about someone who is a little too trigger-happy with a gun.
Very Ape – Nirvana
‘Very Ape’ presents a picture of a stereotypical “macho man,” a typical subject for Kurt Cobain’s songs. The song’s macho guy realizes his flaws, even if he isn’t trying to change: “I’m too busy acting like I’m not naive. I’ve seen it all; I was here first.”
Related: Find this song on our animal songs list.
Her Majesty – The Beatles
This was supposed to be a tribute to the Queen of England but turned into a song about a guy who has feelings for a special someone that he plans to ask out one day. The song was not supposed to appear on The Beatles’ album Abbey Road, but it accidentally made the cut as a hidden track—the first unlisted hidden song on a rock record.
I Will. (No Man’s Land.) – Radiohead
The protagonist of this Radiohead piece feels the need to protect future generations from harm. The song utilizes the melody of ‘Like Spinning Plates,’ but in reverse. The backward melody was actually the first version to exist.
Judy is a Punk – Ramones
This song follows two girls as they decide to join a fringe political group. While the song is a work of fiction, the political group at its center—the Symbionese Liberation Army—was a real group that made the news in 1974.
Breaking Glass – David Bowie and Nine Inch Nails
‘Breaking Glass’ is definitely among the shortest songs having only one verse. It was inspired by a fight David Bowie had with his wife Angie’s friend, where glass was thrown. A longer version was created for live performances and a later live album.
Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want – The Smiths
The narrator here is tired of good luck and asks for a lucky break: “for once in my life, let me get what I want.” He thinks he will be a better and happier person if things start to go right for a change.
Related: Check out more songs from Pretty in Pink.
White Riot – The Clash
This song tells listeners that white people should be as critical of over-controlling governments as black people are. The song was controversial to some but was not meant to be racist or promote violence. ‘White Riot’ was The Clash’s first single and signature piece.
Love You More – Buzzcocks
This track starts off as a sweet and joyful love song. The narrator promises not to leave a romantic partner, as that is the person that life is all about. However, there’s a shocking ending that makes the listener question the song.
The King of Carrot Flowers, Pt. One – Neutral Milk Hotel
In this track, two young people discover their romantic feelings for each other. Their parents appear to be going through many issues that the kids are trying to ignore, even though they know something is wrong. The song shows the stark contrast between youthful bliss and adult worries.
Related: Life isn’t as magical when you get older. Here are some sad songs about growing up.
Accordion – Madvillain
This song introduces the listener to the character of Madvillain. The narrator finds inspiration and decides to tell the listener about this fictional being. The listener learns that Madvillain is unimpressed by promises of fame and fortune and doesn’t fall victim to them. It seems that everyone who knows him thinks of themselves as being like him.
Friend or Foe – Jay-Z
Jay-Z dismisses an outsider in this song, as he believes the individual is a rival out to defeat him. The short piece is structured as a one-way conversation where Jay-Z speaks directly to the outsider. The 1996 song has a sequel track called ‘Friend or Foe ’98,’ which was released in—you guessed it—1998.
Related: If you have a list of foes, check out this enemy songs playlist.
Harvest Breed – Nick Drake
This track explores the inevitable fact of mortality and Nick Drake’s small hope that there is something good to believe in. The lyrics present Drake as having an existential crisis and feeling more negative than positive about life and death.
Related: Find some comfort in the best songs about neglect.
Dance Music – The Mountain Goats
This brief piece is part of a larger story on The Mountain Goats’ album The Sunset Tree. The album tells the true story of John Darnielle’s abusive upbringing. This song explores the methods that Darnielle used to forget the abuse for a while, such as listening to dance music and succumbing to addiction.
Welcome to the Working Week – Elvis Costello
While this could be about disliking work in general, it seems to be about a young woman in a morally questionable work environment upon closer inspection. The lyric “sometimes I wonder if we’re livin’ in the same land” demonstrates that all class and income issues are being discussed in the track.
Related: Get inspired to keep working hard with this list of work songs.
Skinned – Blind Melon
This tells the haunting tale of a real-life serial killer who had an obsession with the dead. Slayer previously wrote about the killer, Ed Gein, in the song ‘Dead Skin Mask’ from 1990. Blind Melon guitarist Christopher Thorn wrote the song as an excuse to learn to play the banjo.
The Celibate Life – The Shins
The male narrator here is in love with a girl who he sees having one romance after another. While he has a deep longing for her, he has also learned to take a step back after realizing that she could never love him exclusively. The song shows how one’s past can influence others’ views of them, fair or not.
Related: If you’re longing for someone, you’ll love these songs about missing someone you can’t have.
Communist Daughter – Neutral Milk Hotel
The “Communist daughter” of this song seems to be a woman who is used by men and viewed as less than human. While she is upset about how she is treated, she has had to learn to move on from her heartbreak to survive.
Related: You can’t stay in the same place forever. Here are the best songs about moving on in life.
Highly Evolved – The Vines
This song presents a narrator and his brother. The narrator is happy with life the way it is, and while he may question things at times, he is fine with letting life flow in general. His brother, on the other hand, is not satisfied with life staying the way it is, causing more suffering in the long run.
Titus Andronicus Forever – Titus Andronicus
The miserable protagonist in this track realizes the enemy is all around him, but no one else seems to care. The song is one of a few that starkly contrasts Titus Andronicus’ more elaborate tracks.
Broken Face – Pixies
This track shows the damage that abuse can inflict on a family. It likely contains Biblical influences, as do many Pixies tracks. As the title and some of the lyrics suggest, abuse can warp and harm the children who are its victims.
Straight Edge – Minor Threat
As the title suggests, this song is about leading a life on the straight and narrow. This is actually a popular lifestyle presented in Punk and Hardcore music. Judging by the lyrics, the protagonist feels somewhat superior to those who lead a less moral life.
Lazing on a Sunday Afternoon – Queen
This song presents its narrator as an ordinary man who enjoys a relaxing life on Sunday afternoons. However, about halfway through the song, the listener learns that the narrator also paints at the Louvre. Freddie Mercury said that the song represented one part of his personality which could change. Perhaps that explains the contrast within the lyrics.
Related: Listen to more songs with Sunday in the title.
You Gave Your Love to Me Softly – Weezer
The narrator here has fallen head over heels for a woman he only spent one night with. Although the night is over, he can’t stop thinking about it, so it never ends for him.
Related: Before you go, listen to these songs about a one night stand.
Why Don’t We Do It in the Road? – The Beatles
Paul McCartney was inspired to write this song after seeing the natural behavior of monkeys in the wild in India. It’s a very simple song with only two lyrics, with the title lyrics repeated over and over, and is the shortest song on the White Album.
Related: Do you have a minute? Have you heard these songs with a question in the title?
Chatterbox – Sid Vicious
The protagonist here seems to either complain about someone talking too much or find it amusing. Either way, the simple lyrics are more lighthearted than angry. Calling the other party a “Chatterbox” is sarcastic at worst and funny at best.
Related: We could talk about these talking songs for hours!
Norgaard – The Vaccines
The title character of this song is Amanda Norgaard, a young model whom Justin Young of The Vaccines met once in real life. The song tells of the Danish model not being ready to settle down in a relationship at her age, based on a non-emotional rejection Young faced with Norgaard.
Vaseline – Elastica
Most listeners interpret this song as being nonsense that is nonetheless enjoyable to listen to. It was written after spotting a jar of petroleum jelly when needing something to write about.
Tourette’s – Nirvana
This song is mostly illegible, as its main focus is guitars, drums, and wailing. Kurt Cobain does scream “cold heart” much more clearly at the end of the song. It gives the listener an impression of what Tourette’s Syndrome is like through its abrupt and startling sound.
Bend Down the Branches – Tom Waits
‘Bend Down the Branches’ by Tom Waits shows the beauty and sadness of aging and coming to terms with death. It shows the battle with mortality from the perspective of an older person who has to accept the changes of aging and the end of life that is coming closer.
Related: Here are some songs about getting old to ease your worries about aging.
Once in a While – Eddie Vedder
Eddie Vedder wonders if a past lover will still think of him in this track. He knows their relationship is over, but he still hopes he has left some mark, hopefully a positive or emotionally moving one.
Dio – Tenacious D
This track is about heavy metal musician Ronnie James Dio. Jack Black tells him to stop singing and retire as he is getting too old for his profession. Black wants Dio to relax and help him become a better rocker who can honor him through his own music.
A Salty Salute – Guided by Voices
This song pays homage to Guided by Voices’ fans and their love of alcohol. The track is popular at the group’s shows, where there is typically a lot of alcohol. It has also been said that the track might be dedicated to a couple of bars the band performed at.
Related: Have a fun night with these good drinking songs.
Fat – Violent Femmes
The narrator here is desperate to win back the woman he has lost. He will take her back no matter what, even if she looks different from the last time they were together. The song shows how desperate a heartbreak can make one feel, even months later when both people have probably changed.
Related: Whether you miss them or want to forget them, here is our songs about exes playlist.
United States of Whatever – Liam Lynch
This was the shortest single to hit the Top Ten on the UK Singles chart. The narrator seems disinterested in life and most of what it offers, including being recognized in public and other everyday happenings.
Cretin Hop – Ramones
‘Cretin Hop’ is a typical song for the Ramones in that it discusses the outcasts on the fringe of society. It was inspired by a visit to an eatery in St. Paul, Minnesota, and is the type of song that made the group popular with their niche audience, even if they didn’t get a lot of airplay.